Bitten by the travel bug: University offers numerous study abroad options

By Torey Butner

Our university offers over 400 study abroad programs at various places around the world, including France, Italy, Austria, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Spain, and many others. Students can spend anywhere from two weeks to a whole year at these locations, and at the same time, earn course credit. 

The diverse programs allow students in all majors to benefit from studying abroad. In addition to the immense number of programs available, the Study Abroad Office created Centers for Global Learning and Engagement and started working on creating two more centers: one in Taipei, Taiwan, and the other in Stockholm, Sweden. The existing centers allow students to study abroad for more than six weeks and take more than one class at a time.

Over 27 percent of U of I students take the opportunity to study abroad in various places around the world. These students learn that studying abroad will not only allow a change of scenery, but a chance to be immersed in a new environment and culture. 

They also discover that studying abroad will not postpone their graduation. By working together with professors and the study abroad office, they can ensure that they get credit for the classes they take abroad and manage to graduate on time.

Many college students have been bitten by the travel bug. There are so many chances to explore the world out there, even if the trip is only a two-week course over winter break. According to the Study Abroad Office, shorter programs are held over winter and summer break and are led by faculty. These programs are usually only one course but are much more intense than courses that span over the entire semester. This is an effort to fit all the information taught into the short period of time available. 

One example is Anthropology 445: Primate Behavior, Ecology, Ecosystem Sustainability and Conservation in Costa Rica. This particular course is held over winter break and spans a total of four weeks. Within this time, students collect field data, trek through tropical rainforests, and learn about Costa Rican culture and life in general.

Of course, there are drawbacks, such as cost, that dissuade students from pursuing the study abroad experience. But in reality, many of the programs cost less than a semester at the University of Illinois.  

Prices often fluctuate depending on location. And even those that do cost more have both financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Scholarships are made available not only through the Study Abroad Office but also through national study abroad organizations.

And finally, after the student’s study abroad experience, the study abroad office encourages students to stay connected to the international community.  Some join the International Illini, an on-campus, student-run Registered Student Organization. There is also the possibility to study abroad again or, if class schedules do not allow it, many more opportunities to work and volunteer abroad.

Torey is a junior in FAA.

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